As Relief Society president, I felt overwhelmed by the needs and challenges some families in our little branch were facing. Times had been tough, and several members had lost their jobs.
Outside the Church, discouragement, sadness, and hopelessness could be seen in the eyes of many who were having difficulty providing for their families. Even children and youth exuded feelings of uncertainty and turmoil.
Branch leaders felt the need to carry a bit of hope and love to the most needy—something that could help people in our community feel that a loving Heavenly Father knew of their trials and was watching over them.
As Christmas drew near, we proposed inviting the poorest children in our community to a dinner. Branch members would hold fund-raisers, buy food from a fast-food chain, and prepare our meetinghouse to receive our guests. Everyone got involved, including the Primary children, young women, and young men.
We arranged for the fast-food chain to provide the food, and we contacted social workers to locate families with the greatest needs. The workers gave us a list of about 100 children, which was more than we had anticipated. Our spirits did not fail, but it seemed impossible to raise enough money to purchase food for that many children.
When the day of our dinner arrived, the branch president, accompanied by several deacons, took the funds we had raised and headed to the restaurant, wondering how we were going to feed so many children with our limited funds. They prayed as they went, thinking that maybe we should invite only the smallest children, divide the meals in half, or call off the activity.
When they reached the restaurant, the branch president put the money on the counter. That’s when their prayers were answered.
The restaurant manager looked at them and, with a smile, said the restaurant would be happy to contribute as many meals as necessary—at no cost! I cannot express the joy we all felt upon learning of this kind gesture, which allowed us to bring some cheer—and plenty of food—to a large group of needy children.
Thanks to the restaurant’s generosity, we were able to use the money that we had raised to purchase food and make food baskets for the neediest families.
From this experience we learned that no effort is in vain when we put our talents and good desires to the service of our fellow beings. Our testimonies were strengthened that the Lord opens doors after we do all we can.